The pastor of an Arizona megachurch has resigned after admitting to having multiple extramarital affairs with members of his congregation.
Pastor Mark Connelly, the lead pastor of Mission Community Church in Gilbert, Ariz., confessed to the affairs and submitted his resignation on Dec. 30, according to a church announcement. Congregants learned of the news during worship services on Saturday and Sunday, The Republic reported.
“We are committed to helping Mark rebuild his marriage, and we have offered all of the mercy and counseling resources of our church to help him and his family through this time,” Executive Pastor of Ministries Gary Sutliff, who has been named interim lead pastor, said in a press release. “In addition, we have offered the same resources to the women involved. Our priority right now is helping all those involved, including the people of our church, heal from this.”
A statement on the church’s website has received more than 100 comments from congregants. Most offer words of support.
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“We are all human and fall short every single day. Mark, you are absolutely loved and you will be missed GREATLY,” Lindsay Isaacs wrote of the pastor that joined the church’s staff in 2005. “Today has been a day of tears and mourning for me and my family; however, I know that God is good and that he knows the needs of Mission church.”
“Wow, I'm floored!! I don't even know how to feel about this.” Loretta Vande Krol wrote. “I hope they can work through this and I hope Pastor Mark gets the help he needs. Pastor Mark was the reason we started going to church and he will be missed.”
The church has more than 6,000 people who regularly attend its worship services. Founded in 1995, it moved into a $10 million facility nearly four years ago. Church leaders have said the board is looking for a new permanent lead pastor.
“We may be knocked down but we are not knocked out,” Pastor Randy Thomas told the church congregation on Sunday. “If ever there was a time for us to lean on each other, this is it.”